Everton v West Brom preview: Roberto Martinez ponders John Stones recall
Last Updated: 13/02/16 2:18pm
Everton centre-back John Stones may return to face West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
However, boss Roberto Martinez could be tempted to hold the England international back after his team recently kept back-to-back Premier League clean sheets for the first time this season without him.
Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori provided a formidable partnership in the 3-0 league wins over Stoke City and Newcastle United and Martinez may opt to retain them at Goodison Park this weekend even if Stones recovers from a hamstring strain.
Those victories have improved the Toffee's chances of finishing in the Europa League qualification spot, but they still languish six points behind Manchester United in fifth.
Meanwhile West Brom, who have slipped to 14th in the table, travel to Merseyside hoping to register a first league win since January 2.
However, manager Tony Pulis said he had growing concerns over the club's worsening injury situation after defender Gareth McAuley limped off during Wednesday's FA Cup penalty shoot-out win over Peterborough United, but still demanded a reaction from his players.
Oumar Niasse could make his debut, probably off the bench, after joining the Toffees for £13.5m, while both Stones and goalkeeper Tim Howard look set to return from injury.
The Baggies have a lengthening injury list featuring the likes of McAuley (hamstring), Evans (hamstring), McManaman (ankle), Morrison (hamstring), Brunt (calf) and Dawson (foot).
The latter two, though, face fitness tests and may still feature at Goodison.
Everton have won five and lost just one of their last nine Premier League games against the Baggies.
West Brom have scored just one goal in the opening 15 minutes in their last 30 Premier League matches.
Everton scored three goals from just four shots on target when they beat West Brom 3-2 at the Hawthorns earlier this season.
West Brom have played the highest proportion of their passes long (21.7 per cent) in the Premier League this season.
Romelu Lukaku scored 17 goals in 35 Premier League appearances for West Brom in 2012/13.
This is one of my bankers of the weekend. West Brom played 120 minutes at Peterborough where they struggled in fairness. Tony Pulis has got to decide whether to play Saido Berahino or not, they need to start scoring goals and he is their only viable option. Albion need results fast to avoid being further sucked into a fight for survival.
Everton, meanwhile, have won their last three games 3-0, they've tightened things up at the back and going forward they are very, very good. Stoke haven't received a hiding at home like the one Everton dished out in many a day, they were unbelievable and it would have been six or seven had it not been for Jack Butland. I fancy Everton to make it four 3-0 wins on the spin
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (Sky Bet odds 9/1)
Everton are Sky Bet's 8/15 favourites ahead of the visit of West Brom (11/2) to Goodison Park with the draw a 3/1 shot. The Toffees are flying at the moment after two successive 3-0 league wins and can be backed at 9/1 to extend that trend. The Baggies haven't won on the road in the top flight since October, scoring only eight times on their travels this season and are 11/8 to lose without finding the net.
Soccer Saturday pundit Phil Thompson is backing Everton to keep a clean sheet at a Price Boosted 6/5. Everton are also one of the picks in this Saturday's Soccer Saturday Price Boost. Back the Toffees, Bournemouth and Southampton all to win enhanced from 7/1 10/1..